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How-to: sanitize your home

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Keeping your home clean is always crucial for your health, but never as important as during outbreaks.

Most of the time, cleaning and sanitizing is pretty common sense, but there are some misconceptions about where the highest levels of germs are found. Some may assume that toilets are the germiest parts of your home, but shockingly that isn’t accurate. Kitchens are among the most germ-infested locations in your home, though most people may not want to acknowledge it. Kitchen sinks and taps are at the top of the list, along with cutting boards, and even the knobs on your ovens. But you clean your kitchen all the time, so how is it possible? Well, one thing might be that cleaning and sanitizing aren’t always the same thing, and we often do surface cleans as opposed to deep cleans.

The other important thing to consider is what you’re using to clean. If you use a sponge to do the dishes and wipe down your entire kitchen, for example, you might as well be scrubbing your kitchen down with a raw chicken breast or not clean at all. Sponges are something many of us use, but they are some of the worst harbingers of germs. So what are the most important things to do to keep your space germ-free? We’ve compiled a list of steps to keep in mind the next time you deep clean.

Step 1. Let’s talk about products.

First things first: you can’t clean without the right equipment, and there are a lot of choices. For anything that you will be using, stick to stuff that is washable. Use dishcloths, rags, and even mops that can be tossed into your laundry machine after every use. When buying cleaning chemicals, check the difference between things that clean and those that sanitize. Environmentally friendly or natural cleaners are great, but they don’t always kill germs or viruses, contrary to some of their claims. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them, but keep something on hand that will eradicate the hidden contaminants. The CDC recom mends using bleach with 5.25 to 8.25 per cent sodium hypochlo rite and making a mixture using 1/3 cup of bleach added to 3.75 litres of water. You can store it in spray bottles for ease of use, but make sure you label them correctly for everyone’s safety in your household.

Step 2. Make a checklist.

Sometimes it is easy to get lost in the moment when cleaning our own house. Distractions happen, and if sanitizing is the goal, missing spots will mean the work you did do was for nothing. So make a checklist. This can be an easy way to make sure you covered all the necessary areas. When making the checklist, put all your items in an order that will make it easy to prevent backtracking. For example you wouldn’t sanitize your kitchen sink and then start cleaning the kitchen because now every time you rinse your rag you’re recontaminating the sink. It’s also important to start from the top. Dirt is bound by gravity just like the rest of us, so cleaning your floors and then dusting is counterproductive. Dust, wash, and wipe counters and surfaces first, then vacuum and wash your floors last.

Step 3. Get going.

Just go for it. Dusting is pretty straightforward and works best with a damp surface, so spray some of the sanitizer on the surface or cloth and wipe away. For kitchens and bathrooms, use your favourite cleaning agents to get out all the dirt and grime, and rinse away all the product. Once you’re done, spray all the surfaces down with the bleach solution, leave it for at least one minute, then wipe it all down. It’s vital to use a different rag for each area. Don’t be afraid to switch rags often, and never use the rag you used on your toilet to wipe down your taps, sinks or counters. You don’t want the chance for cross-contamination of any kind. Along the way, don’t forget to pay extra attention to the most-touched areas, mainly doorknobs, light switches, faucets, remotes, phones, and computers. Finally, vacuum and wash your floors with hot water and your favourite floor cleaner. Then you can follow up with the diluted bleach solution to sanitize.

Step 4. Clean up after clean up.

Oh, you thought you were done? No, not yet, but almost. Take all of your rags and mop and toss them into your washing machine. Add a bit of bleach and detergent, then run with hot water and dry on high heat to make sure you kill anything that may have survived.

Once everything is done, you might want to treat yourself to a snack and a Netflix marathon. Just remember, before you do so, wash your hands.

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